twin studies not without merit, barley field storm, climate change and disasters

Brian Palmer at Slate makes some good points about monozygotic (identical) twins not being absolute genetic copies of each other and some of the historically flawed studies of twins. On the other hand he goes a bridge too far. Double Inanity – Twin studies are pretty much useless.

That’s just the beginning of the genetic differences between monozygotic twins. As a result of mutations during development, about one in 10 human brain cells has more or less than the typical two copies of a chromosome. Identical twins also have different mitochondrial DNA, the genetic information stored in the cellar organelle responsible for processing glucose. Research suggests that mitochondrial DNA affects brain size among a host of other neurological traits.

Twin studies also rely on the false assumption that genetics are constant throughout one’s lifetime. Mutations and environmental factors cause measurable changes to the genome as life progresses. Charney cites the example of exercise, which can accelerate the formation of new neurons and potentially increase genetic variation among individual brain cells. By the time a pair of twins reaches middle age, it’s very difficult to make any assumptions whatsoever about the similarity of their genes.


Palmer more or less declares that studies of twins are nearly useless because of all the reasons monozygotic (identical) twins are different. he says monozygotic twins have differences derived from the genetic phenomenon known as copy number variations. Further more he notes they have different mitochondria DNA. Both true. Yet in both those instances the similarities between twins in their copy number variations and their mitochondria DNA are closer to each other than one of the twins and any other person on earth. Those similarities are also greater than any two random individuals, even from the same family. So twins can provide a base line for studying genetically based behavior even if such studies do not produce writ in stone behavioral theories. Some of the studies he cites were awful to some degree or another, especially going back to Sir Francis Galton. Some early theories about the atom were in error as well, that doesn’t mean early nuclear theorists like Neils Bohr did not make a contribution to eventually understanding the basic atom model. Palmer is also correct about the equal environments models for identical twins. Each twin experiences time and space in its own way as they can never have the exact same experience. Though it might be a mistake not to acknowledge that some environments are similar and two people who have very similar genetic make-up would not have some common ground in the way they filter and process their experiences.

moody, field, farm, storm clouds, barley, green

barley field storm wallpaper

I supposed that since global warming is not occurring, the consequences of global warming are just a figment of our imaginations – First link between climate patterns and civil conflict

The analysis included 175 countries and 234 conflicts, over half of which caused more than 1000 deaths. It found that the risk of conflict in tropical countries rose from 3 per cent during La Niña years to 6 per cent during El Niño years. The effect was absent from countries only weakly affected by these climate cycles (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature10311).

“I was surprised by the strength of the effect,” says Halvard Buhaug of the Peace Research Institute Oslo in Norway. “Doubling of risk is a large increase, about on a par with poverty and ethno-political exclusion.”

Buhaug has been sceptical of similar studies, and though he finds the statistics convincing, he says he is puzzled, as the study offers no explanation for how El Niño might exert an influence over stressed human societies.

Hsiang’s team found that El Niño appeared to have an immediate effect – in their analysis, conflicts erupted within months of the onset of El Niño events – but the correlation was independent of local weather events like drought, which can bring famine and increased tension.

Hsiang cannot yet explain what is causing the link. One possibility is that international markets spread climate signals around the world. For instance, widespread drought in an El Niño year could cause global food prices to rise.

But as Andrew Solow of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts points out, “People do not start wars simply because they are hot.” And until we know what it is about El Niño that increases the likelihood of conflict, it will be impossible to say whether this means we should expect more unrest due to climate change.


This is at least enough of a strong correlation, though admittedly some of cause and effect issues need some work, to continue to monitor weather events and conflicts. The effects might be largely confined to countries or locals which do not have the kind of infrastructure such as western Europe and the U.S. Those large developed economies with large land areas are better able to deal with the impacts of large-scale floods and droughts. Conflicts are less likely even in worse case scenarios. The drought in Texas is historically awful, but the overall impact on the U.S. economy is something we can deal with.

black and white rocky sea coast

Various linkage: People like to be respected, some even enjoy be admired. There is a point where those things can get creepy – In the ruins of Gadhafi’s lair, rebels find album filled with photos of his ‘darling’ Condoleezza Rice

Monkeying with the Medicare eligibility age. There are several lovely magical answers to all that ails us and that awful social safety net in regular play on the national noise machine. Rising the Medicare eligibility age is not only not a panacea, but will cost us all more money as it drives more seniors into poverty. Guaranteed to please public policy wonks.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) has Police Confiscate Video Cameras & Cell Phones from Constituents at Town Hall. In short I want you to come to my town hall meetings I just don’t want anything I say ending up on YouTube.

Gheen Floats Military Coup And Arrest To “Remove” Obama From Office “As Soon As Possible”

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC’s William Gheen is out in force after we at People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch reported on an interview with Janet Mefferd in which he said that “extra-political activities” that he described as “illegal and violent” might be the only way for people to stop the “Dictator Barack Obama.”


What does it say about the moral compass of today’s conservatives that they despise a Democrat who is economically to the Right of Saint Ronnie Reagan.